header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail


Today in
S.C.V. History
July 25
1915 - Pioneer Juan Batista Suraco buried in a family graveyard, currently unmarked, in Bouquet Canyon near Benz Road [story]
Suraco family

Elena Miranda

CSUN structural geologist Elena Miranda accepting the Geological Society of America’s Structural Geology and Tectonics Division for its highest publication honor, the Structural Geology and Tectonics Division Outstanding Publication Award, from Eric Cowgill of UC Davis. Photo courtesy of Elena Miranda. Click on photo to enlarge picture. 

As a student working on her doctorate in geology nearly 20 years ago, Elena Miranda was excited at the prospect of exploring a burgeoning new field of research that could provide insights into the causes of the Earth’s faults and shear zones, key information for understanding earthquakes and other tectonic movements.

But Miranda, one of only a handful of Latinas in such a Ph.D. program at the time, was discouraged from pursuing that field of study. Advisors said she didn’t have what it took to succeed. Miranda, now a professor of geological sciences at California State University, Northridge, disagreed.

She taught herself the subject and is now considered a leading structural geologist in the field of electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD)—a scanning electron microscopy technique used to study the crystalline structure of materials. One of her papers, published in 2016, was singled out last month (October) by the Geological Society of America’s Structural Geology and Tectonics Division for its highest publication honor, calling it “of exceptional distinction that clearly advances the science of structural geology or tectonics.” The paper features the first EBSD data to come out of Miranda’s lab at CSUN. Miranda is the first Latina and only the seventh female lead author to receive the award.

“I am over the moon about this honor because the paper on which it was based has a back story,” Miranda said. “I am one of the most stubborn people I know. I found it unacceptable to be treated like an incapable Ph.D. student, that my advisors did not expect much of me. I knew I would be capable of great work if I was just given the chance. If no one was going to teach me, then I was going to teach myself. I wanted to show that I could become an expert despite everything that was thrown at me.”

Miranda’s paper—“Microstructural evidence for the transition from dislocation creep to dislocation-accommodated grain boundary sliding in naturally deformed plagioclase” was published in the Journal of Structural Geology—was nominated by geologists across the country who said it was integral part of their teaching and provided a foundation for their own research. It was awarded the Geological Society of America’s Structural Geology and Tectonics Division Outstanding Publication Award. The society was founded in 1888 and is the oldest and the largest geological professional society in North America, with more than 22,000 members. The publication award was first given in 1984.

“To see the list of previous awardees is quite humbling,” Miranda said. “Some of the greatest and most impactful papers in my discipline are listed as awardees on the society’s website, and my publication is now among them.”

Miranda originally trained as a marine geologist, and spent time doing submersible dives on the ocean floor studying mid-ocean ridges and ocean basins to understand tectonic deformation. While doing this research, she learned about a relatively new field of study involving electron backscatter diffraction analysis.

“I came from marine geology, so I knew how to identify microstructures really well with light microscopes,” Miranda said. “But this electron backscatter diffraction analysis was something else. I knew this technique was the future of being able to do microstructural analysis.”

Miranda spent hundreds of hours on her own, learning EBSD. Eventually, with the support of Jerry Stinner, dean of CSUN’s College of Science and Mathematics, she established the Department of Geological Sciences’ Scanning Electron Microscopy Lab as a collaborative user facility with EBSD analysis capability. There, she uses EBSD to understand the causes of movement along faults and shear zones that can cause earthquakes and other tectonic movements.

“We use this technique to look at how strong or weak fault rocks are within a fault or shear zone because that’s where a break in the material can lead to earthquakes,” she said. “By using EBSD, we have some insight into seismic risk. We can interpret the ways in which these shear zones have moved in the geologic past. We can use it to interpret past plate motions, past movements along fault lines and the character of the deformation that we find. The technique allows us to interpret temperature, the stresses being put on the rock and how large those stresses are. We can quantify and use equations that describe the behavior of these materials to predict how strong and how fast that material is going to move.”

Miranda said she is particularly proud to receive the honor as a member of the California State University faculty.

“I might be one of the only recipients who did the work at a master’s-granting institution,” she said. “People like us don’t usually get awards like this. But I did, and I hope there will be others like me—Latinas, women and people of color working at master’s-granting institutions—who will get recognized in the future for their work, too.”

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Monday, Jul 22, 2024
To help students balance education with their diverse work and family responsibilities, College of the Canyons will offer a wide variety of flexible learning options during the fall 2024 semester.
Thursday, Jul 18, 2024
Every summer, The Master’s University sends students across the world to partner with missionaries, pastors, and church planters in sharing the gospel and serving local bodies of believers.
Wednesday, Jul 17, 2024
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced the nominees for the 76th Annual Emmy Awards on Wednesday, July 17 at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. Several California Institute of the Arts alums were recognized for excellence in television across 118 categories.
Monday, Jul 15, 2024
Jhoanna Serrano left the Philippines for the United States at just 18 years old, hoping to give her then-2-year-old daughter, Jean Pauline, a better future.
Monday, Jul 15, 2024
The Master’s University Chorale, one of the school’s marquee music performance ensembles, toured through Texas this summer.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, the second annual "Game. Set. Hope. Charity Tennis Tournament" will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, beginning 9:30 a.m., at the West Ranch High School tennis courts.
Sept. 7: ‘Game. Set. Hope.’ Tennis Tourney Benefiting Mental Health Awareness
Building on California’s ongoing work and unprecedented investments to address the decades-long issue of homelessness, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Thursday ordering state agencies and departments to adopt clear policies that urgently address homeless encampments while  respecting the dignity and well-being of all Californians.
Newsom Issues Executive Order to Clear Homeless Encampments
1915 - Pioneer Juan Batista Suraco buried in a family graveyard, currently unmarked, in Bouquet Canyon near Benz Road [story]
Suraco family
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health cautions residents who are planning to visit the below Los Angeles County beaches to avoid swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters:
Ocean Water Warning for July 24
The Los Angeles County Departments of Mental Health and Public Health have centralized access to mental health and substance use services into one 24/7 call center at (800) 854-7771.
Los Angeles County Revamps 24/7 Help Line to Integrate Access to Mental Health & Substance Use Services
Adopt a Pet and help the Castaic Animal Shelter "Clear the Shelter" with their kick-off Party on Aug. 10. 
Aug. 10:  “Clear the Shelter Kick off Party” at Castaic Shelter Next Month
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Engineering and Operations Committee will hold a meeting Thursday, Aug 1, at 5:30 p.m., in the Engineering Services Section Boardroom, 26521 Summit Circle in Santa Clarita.
Aug. 1: SCV Water’s Engineering and Operations Committee Meeting
The California Department of Motor Vehicles invites businesses, public agencies and innovators to apply to join two community “hackathons” to promote additional uses for the California mobile Driver’s License.
DMV to Host Community Hackathons to Facilitate Additional Uses for Mobile Driver’s License
In an effort to maintain transparency with the entire Saugus Union School District community, SUSD is announcing that the Governing Board of the Saugus Union School District will consider placing a school facility measure onto the Nov. 5, 2024 ballot.
Saugus Union School District to Put Facility Measure on November Ballot
Princess Cruises, the leading cruise line in Alaska, today unveiled its biggest-ever Alaska season for 2026, highlighted by the debut of the newest ship in its fleet, Star Princess.
Princess Cruises Reveals Epic 2026 Alaska Season
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will conduct a traffic safety operation on, July 24 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. focused on the most dangerous driver behaviors that put the safety of people biking or walking at risk.
July 24: Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Operation
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce today announced the honorees for its second Annual Black Business Month Celebration, taking place at California Institute of the Arts on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
SCV Chamber Announces Honorees For Second Annual Black Business Month Celebration
1864 - Walker/Reynier family patriarch Jean Joseph Reynier, then 15, arrives in Sand Canyon from France; eventually homesteads 1,200 acres [story]
Joseph Reynier
College of the Canyons graduating sophomore Jonah El-Farra has been named a California Community Colleges Men's Basketball Coaches Associations (CCCMBCA) student-athlete scholarship recipient for the 2023-24 season. 
El-Farra Earns Coaches Associations’ Student-Athlete Scholarship
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Tuesday a motion introduced by Supervisor Kathryn Barger and co-authored by Chair Lindsey P. Horvath that directs the creation of an independent Ethics Commission and ethics reform measures to improve transparency and create greater oversight in County government.
Supes Unanimously Approve Creation of Ethics Commission, Reform
The city of Santa Clarita is inviting artists to submit artwork for consideration for its upcoming “Body & Presence” juried exhibition, which will be on view at the Canyon Country Community Center during the City's annual Business for Artists Conference.
Aug. 4: Call for Art ‘Body & Presence’ Exhibit Deadline
Zach Schroeder, the head coach for The Master’s University track and cross country programs, is stepping down to be closer to family.
After Historic Run, TMU Coach Zach Schroeder Steps Down
The community is invited to an SCV Senior Center Health and Wellness program lecture “Let’s Talk About Kidney Health” on Wednesday, July 24, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
July 24: SCV Senior Center Wellness Program Lecture on Kidney Health
College of the Canyons baseball is sending five players to four-year universities to continue their academic journeys and athletic careers following the 2024 season.
Five Cougars Taking Skills to Next Level
The Master's University baseball has signed pitcher Mack Skeels to join the team for the 2025 season.
Pitcher Mack Skeels Commits to Mustangs Baseball
Drug-related overdose and poisoning deaths plateaued for the first time in ten years in 2023 in Los Angeles County, a new Los Angeles County Department of Public Health analysis of Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner data has found.
L.A. County’s Drug-Related Overdose Deaths Plateau for First Time in Decade
As temperatures soar in Los Angeles, so do the numbers of mosquitoes and their relentless, itchy bites.
Vector Control Launches Summer Safeguarding Campaign
1982 - Vic Morrow & two child actors killed in helicopter crash at Indian Dunes during filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
Twilight Zone Movie
Picture this…a cozy blanket laid out on the grass, the warm evening breeze and your favorite film playing on the big screen.
Ken Striplin | City Cinemas Brings Back Movies Under the Stars